President & CEO
Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce
Tuesday March 8, 2022 is International Women’s Day and in the United States, the month of March is celebrated as Women’s History Month. With those two celebrations as a back drop, we thought it would be great to highlight five amazing women here in Carlsbad who are making an impact.
Women in Business
Diane Proulx has been working at Grand Pacific Resorts as Special Assistant to the President for 17 years. For those few Carlsbadians not familiar with Grand Pacific, they own and operate time share, hotel and resort properties here in Carlsbad. They are one of the largest employers in the city due to the volume of properties they manage. Diane’s roll involves active involvement in both the administrative and operational side of the business. She is active in many aspects of development and operations of their properties, which includes project management, construction, office management, special projects and design. No two days are ever the same in Diane’s world due to the fact that she is involved in so many aspects of the business. Her wide array of responsibilities does lead to some challenges. Diane stated, “While I love a good challenge, multi-tasking is one the biggest challenges. I always thought I was good at it, but realize I was good at thinking I was multi-tasking well, but was not as effective as I could be.”
Diane is also engaged in the community. She is on the Board of Directors for the Agua Hedionda Lagoon Foundation. She has also served on the Parks and Recreation Commission and Envision Carlsbad Committee. She has participated in the San Diego Water Authority, Carlsbad Chamber Candidate and Carlsbad Citizens Academies. She has served on the Carlsbad High School Site Council, and Carlsbad High Touchdown Club and Pop Warner boards, as well as coached basketball, baseball and football.
When asked what her favorite thing about Carlsbad is, she replies, “Everything! I was so fortunate to land here. It was really a bit of luck that I ended up moving two young boys and myself to a place where I knew no one or had any connections. Carlsbad offered us a wonderful place to be a family and enjoy nature, beaches and offered great schools! We have a lively downtown with so many great places to eat and meet people. To live and work in Carlsbad is a true blessing.”
Women in Education
Arlene Oyagi knew since she was in middle school that she wanted to be a teacher. And she has been in education here in the Carlsbad area now for over 22 years. At La Costa Heights Elementary School in Carlsbad, she has taught 6th grade, 3rd grade and 2nd grade. In 2021, Arlene was honored at our CBAD Awards as our Elementary School Teacher of the Year.
Arlene’s passion for education begins and ends in relationships. She shared, “I love the relationships I have with the students, staff and families at LCH. I get to be with great people, big and small, each day. I look forward to making connections with my students, which is the best foundation for learning in my opinion.” The pandemic certainly brought plenty of challenges to all our dedicated teachers. One silver lining that Arlene has experienced is the “strong emphasis on social-emotional learning and mental health” that has resulted from all the virtual learning challenges. Angelica Lopez, the Assistant Superintendent in Encinitas Union School District, share this about Arlene, “One of Arlene’s greatest strengths is her ability to understand and empathize with others. Her communication and compassion are beacons that guide all of us in or work and in our relationships with others. In the classroom, Ms. Oyagi carries these same characteristics and qualities. She knows her students’ strengths and areas of growth individually. Her students each know how much share cares about them as individuals. She is an advocate for every child.”
When she isn’t in the classroom, you may find Arlene out doing stand-up paddle boarding, dabbling in pickleball, brushing up on her golf game or practicing her new hobby, crocheting.
Women in Public Safety
Cindy Anderson has had public service in her blood since an early age. Cindy started her career as a Sergeant in the Marine Corps and served locally at Camp Pendleton. While there, she was awarded a scholarship which paid for her master’s degree. And as part of her degree, Cindy was required to complete an internship. She chose the Carlsbad Police Department, which soon led to her being hired as a part-time investigative assistant. Not long later, she applied for the Crime Analyst position when the opportunity arose. Now, fifteen years later, she is supervising the Crime Analysis Unit as a Senior Management Analyst.
Cindy’s unit identifies crime trends in the city and connects them to related crimes in the region. They also assist detectives in identifying criminals and their associates, and provide patrol with information on where crimes are happening in the city, which suspects they should be aware of, and any relevant intelligence information that they should know while policing the city. They often work outside of normal hours to assist with active cases, whether it is to identify a suspect, find victims for stolen property, connect cases that are within or outside of their jurisdiction, or provide information on where to find suspects, as these crimes often occur in the middle of the night and on weekends.
The thing Cindy loves most about her job is making a difference. She shared, “I love making a difference, knowing that because I remembered important details about a case or a suspect, I was able to make a connection that helped solve a case. I love the relationships I’ve established in the community as well as in law enforcement in doing this job. I also love that every day is different, but it is always interesting.”
Cindy loves all things Carlsbad. But when she is not working, she is making her biggest impact by raising her three sons. So if you are out and about in Carlsbad, you might see her with their recently adopted retired police K-9 at a robotics event, lacrosse tournament or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competition.
Women in Nonprofit Leadership
Mary Backer worked in the publishing industry out of college until one of her daughters was born with special needs. After focusing her energy on raising her family for 20 years, Mary started Beacons, Inc. with other moms of adults with disabilities who wanted to create lifelong learning opportunities for their adult children in north county. In 2018 Beacons outgrew their kitchen table and in 2021 they moved into a 4,000 sf office space. Beacons works with adult individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID/DD), a traditionally overlooked population. Statistics show 85% of individuals with ID/DD have been unemployed in San Diego County. Mary currently serves as the President of Beacons and loves seeing the difference their programs make every day in lives of the community they serve. Mary shared, “Seeing their self-advocacy and hard work pay off is very meaningful to me. I feel like I learn something new every day. Our clients constantly teach all of us working at Beacons different ways to approach things in order to optimize learning and experiences.”
Beacons offers three programs for their clients: PathFinder, Navigator and Club Beacon. All are aimed at helping their ID/DD clients gain employment. This rewarding work is not without its challenges. Mary stated that, “One of the highest priorities in the State of California under its ‘Employment First’ policy is to help individuals with cognitive disabilities find gainful employment and yet very few employers have offered to work with us to make that happen.” Mary works tirelessly to help employers see the opportunity available in working with their clientele. She commented that, “The state’s paid internship program makes a 3rd party the employer of record and that 3rd party pays the wages, workers comp and insurance. We need employers to recognize that in exchange for giving a worker’s access to their site for training, they can have additional employees available to them at no out-ofpocket cost.
In addition to advocating tirelessly for special needs adults, Mary loves coastal living in Carlsbad, is a huge college football fan, and now (since Covid) is part of the homemade sourdough bread craze.
Women in Civic Service
Kristina Ray is the Communications and Engagement Director for the City of Carlsbad. And although Carlsbad is Tina’s home town, her journey to work for the city was anything but direct. Tina started her professional career by working for two former White House press secretaries in Washington, D.C. That experience was every bit as crazy as you might imagine it being if you regularly watch CNN, Fox News or any other major news outlet. Some people enjoy that experience, but for Tina, she shared that “it cured me of my desire to work in politics.” She did spend some time working as a communication consultant to local, state and federal public agencies, but eventually, all road led her back to Carlsbad.
As the Communications and Engagement Director, Tina loves that in her role she gets to work with all city departments. She feels that she serves as a translator of sorts, trying to demystify government processes and jargon so everything the city does is transparent. What Tina really loves about her job is that, “I get to see up close how things work, but I also have a global view of the city as a whole. It makes me really proud to see the caliber of professionals – most of whom are behind the scenes – who work every day to make Carlsbad great. It takes so many different parts moving together to create this wonderful experience we get to have being in Carlsbad.”
Tina does not consider herself a patient person, which sometimes can be a challenge in government work as the speed of change can be slow due to the complexity of rules that are in place to protect the public. Despite that, she relishes the opportunity to raise awareness of all the different programs and services that are available to our residents and businesses.
When she is not behind her computer screen, you may very well find her out on one of Carlsbad’s 67 miles of hiking trails (yep, that’s right, 67 miles…Tina wanted to make sure you knew about that!).